Sign in or Join FriendFeed
FriendFeed is the easiest way to share online. Learn more »
The Reading Room

The Reading Room

A place for bibliophiles to share their thoughts on recent reads and well-loved tomes.
Spidra Webster
"We’re making our book list and checking it twice. Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum and editor Annalee Newitz join Ira Flatow to share their top science, technology, and environmental books of 2014. Have a favorite? Share it in the comments and add your pick to the list! Plus, check out our kids' science book picks here." - Spidra Webster from Bookmarklet
I recently came across a story that called The Goblin Emperor a stand-alone novel, and that characterization has been bugging me. I really liked the book, but I realized that if it is in fact stand-alone, I might think it was a terrible book.
1. The presence of goblins and elves is meaningless in this book. Unless there are more books, why have fantastical species? Really, it feels now like a thin attempt to declare a book about political development of a king to be SF/F. - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
2. It's really not SF/F. Sure, the characters are goblins and elves, but why? There's nothing about them that requires they be non-human species. Nothing. There's a wee bit of magic, but none of it couldn't be simply swapped for mechanical means. It's a cop out - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
3. I think I would be most disappointed, though, that someone went to the effort to create such elaborate language rules -- and did such a poor job of explaining the language, and therefore rendered whatever she was trying to show by the language invisible -- for a standalone book. - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
Any of these would be forgivable (in an enjoyable read) if they were tools for setting up a universe. But as a universe unto themselves? I think they make for really bad and self-indulgent writing. What do you think- does thinking of the book as a standalone change your response to the book? AM I being really judgmental? - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
Thinking of a book as a series or standalone only changes how I feel about it if parts feel like they're missing, or if it obscures a bad narrative structure. Focusing on the label doesn't seem all that productive to me. You could label any of Banks' 'Culture' novels as stand-alone, but the work in each enhances your understanding of the universe he's created for them. - Jennifer Dittrich
I assumed this one was a stand-alone when I read it, but I remember hoping that the world would be revisited in another book(s). I still enjoyed it. I find point 2 could describe a lot of books. I just don't necessarily see it as a cop out. I think it's one of those things that I just don't worry about when I'm reading for pleasure, but that's my personal choice. Thinking back, I read this after reading some truly awful books (I mean, really really bad), so that could have affected my reading, as well. - Katy S
It feels like you're applying rules that have meaning to you, but they don't resonate for me. Why do those things matter? Why put arbitrary limits on how someone chooses to make their art? - Jenica from iPhone
Honestly, Jenica, I don't know. I enjoyed the book, but when I saw it in the category of "stand alone novel" all of those other things suddenly appeared. I was surprised to find that my enjoyment of it changed with that new information. I guess I was posting here to see if others had similar reactions. Clearly, my response is pretty singular. - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
Well, it's an interesting thing to know about your reading preferences, right? :) - Jenica
The first couple didn't even register with me. I suspect this is because I read so much children's literature, in which characters are often animals or some other creature for no apparent reason. :) I did look back at when I read the book and it looks like it was near the time I read Rush Limbaugh's children's books and a particularly wretched Amish Christian fiction title. Now I feel like rereading this to see how I feel about it now. - Katy S
Goodreads | 100 Best Books of All Time: The World Library List (100 books) -
Goodreads | 100 Best Books of All Time: The World Library List (100 books)
Goodreads | 100 Best Books of All Time: The World Library List (100 books)
Goodreads | 100 Best Books of All Time: The World Library List (100 books)
"List of 100 best books of all time, as voted on by 100 writers in 54 different countries. List reflects works from multiple countries, cultures and time periods. Compiled in 2002 by Norwegian Book Clubs." - Eivind from Bookmarklet
Your 2015 reading goal? :) - Ken Morley
I'll certainly knock down a few more. I've already read about half of them, but there are books on there I have no desire to read :) - Eivind from Android
Eivind, what are some of the ones you'd skip? - Anne Bouey
The plays, mostly. I'd like to know them all, but at present I really don't feel like reading them :) - Eivind
I disagree with this list. - Heisenberg
I haven't read all the books there are yet, so I'm not in a position to judge. - Eivind
Proust should be No:1 - ccc- Proust - ccc - Arfin Kiriloğlu
The original list isn't ordered, Arfin. - Eivind
Eivind, last week i played chess on with a guy called Eivind from Norway, i hope it wasn't you - i had a cruel win ^^ Your name is common in Norway? - Arfin Kiriloğlu
According to SSB ( there are "8 381 men with Eivind as part of their forename" and "6 817 men with Eivind as their only forename." So, fairly common :) - Eivind
I've read a fair bit of them, some of which I gave up on. I haven't looked up the criteria by which these were chosen, if one was given, but my list would look at least 75% different. I realize as an American, I am biased towards American literature, but many of these books just aren't that good. Both Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez novels are there, yet no John Steinbeck or F. Scott... more... - Heisenberg
Without going into what I would bump, which is quite a lot, I would start by adding these: The Sun Also Rises, Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird, and On the Road. That's really only the beginning though. I'd massacre this list. - Heisenberg
Those are some fine books and A Tale of Two Cities you have there. I actually asked Jenny why they didn't select a better Hemingway book. And I'm a huge Steinbeck fan. The list was curated from 100 authors' top 10 lists. The author pool represented 54 countries, and 26 of them represented the Anglosphere. - Eivind
When I said criteria, I meant what aspects of these books and authors were deemed important in rating them, e.g. readability, historical significance, message, cultural importance, plot, character development. Of the books on their list, my favorite would be Crime and Punishment. - Heisenberg
The selection is called the World Library, so I assume they were just asked which ten books they felt should absolutely be part of such a thing. - Eivind from Android
The reason I came across this list in the first place, is that I bought the Norwegian translation of the book called Independent People in English. I'm still reading it, but that is a quality work with a proper saga feel to the writing. So, read Independent People by Haldor Laxness, everyone :) - Eivind
I've been choosing what to read next based on the SF Masterworks and Fantasy Masterworks lists. I'm reading stuff I had either not heard of or wouldn't have picked on my own (especially Fantasy).
I just finished The Fifth Head of Cerberus, by Gene Wolfe. It was different, in a good way. - bentley
I'd already read several of the SF books, but I'm not very well read in Fantasy. I'm trying to alternate lists so I don't neglect the Fantasy one. - bentley
Philip K. Dick wins! - Ken Morley
Wow, yeah. I hadn't counted before. - bentley
Reading the world in 196 books. "Writer Ann Morgan set herself a challenge – to read a book from every country in the world in one year. She describes the experience and what she learned." The list:
Katy S
"We will need writers who can remember freedom": Ursula K Le Guin at the National Book Awards | parker higgins dot net -
"We will need writers who can remember freedom": Ursula K Le Guin at the National Book Awards | parker higgins dot net
She calls out publishers for selling e-books for more to libraries than individuals. Also, posting because she rocks! - Katy S from Bookmarklet
Great speech - but I'm waiting to see if she sends a take-down. She can be pretty hardnosed about her copyrights and people posting her words online. - barbara fister
David Handler made a terrible dog's breakfast of the YA win. Black author - watermelon jokes. Plus foolishness about the Coretta Scott King award. So disappointing (as was the general silence in response - only excusable if they couldn't find their jaws on the floor). - barbara fister
Daniel Handler? ETA: yes, it's him. Googling found me this: - kaijsa
Handler was terrible. - Katy S
He is donating $100,000 matching to We Need Diverse Books - happy to see that. Though still - oi. - barbara fister
I saw that this morning. Money is nice, but I'm more interested to see what he does in the future. - Katy S from iPhone
He strikes me as the kind of person who will learn from a fuckup. We probably won't have a chance to find out any time soon, however. - RepoRat
I have heard that he can be a jerk, but I get the impression that he could learn from all of this, too. - Katy S from iPhone
I found him thoroughly delightful at an 826 benefit a few years ago, and while he was kind of saucy, he didn't say anything that offended liberal Seattleites. I've never had personal interactions with him. - kaijsa
He has said publicly his words were racist. Stupid to say them, but he's owning up to what was wrong which is sadly unusual. - barbara fister from iPhone
Yes. He apologized for real, not just the standard "sorry if you were offended" nonsense. It's a good sign that he took responsibility, but it still boggles my mind that he thought those jokes were okay. - kaijsa
link to the better apology, please? - maʀtha
Spidra Webster
There aren't that many straight lit novels I'm interested in buying but I may well get this. The author was interviewed on KPCC today. The story is set in Fallbrook, CA. There's a lot of subtropical/tropical fruit growing there in North San Diego County. The protagonist's family farms avocados. That's kinda weird enough that I'm intrigued. :)
It's called "Full Measure" by T. Jefferson Parker - Spidra Webster
The KPCC interview is here: - Spidra Webster
That's where my family lives; I'll have to read it, too. - joey
why did i read that as "sociopathic tropical fruit growing"? - Big Joe Silence
Durian is probably a sociopathic tropical fruit. - Spidra Webster
Have You Ever Had a Relationship End Because of a Book? - -
Have You Ever Had a Relationship End Because of a Book? -
Have You Ever Had a Relationship End Because of a Book? -
"Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Zoë Heller and Anna Holmes discuss the havoc books can wreak on relationships. By Zoë Heller Do you want to be one of those dreary couples who are always delivering their identical cultural opinions in the first person plural? Many years ago, when I was in my 20s, I went on vacation with a boyfriend to a remote Scottish island. We spent the days going on long, wet hikes and drinking in the pub. At night, we huddled in our freezing house and read aloud to each other. Neither one of us, it turned out, cared much for the other’s choice of book. I had come with “A Legacy,” by Sybille Bedford, which my boyfriend found mannered and pretentious. He had brought “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” by Hunter S. Thompson, which I thought was tiresome and unfunny. These differences of opinion did not strike me as a big deal. It was mildly disappointing, perhaps, that my boyfriend should be impressed by the... more... - Jessie from Bookmarklet
"This surely is one of the great advantages of reading as a pursuit — that its pleasures do not rely on teammates or fellow enthusiasts, that the reader’s relationship with an author has no need of endorsement from third parties. Insisting that your loved one’s literary judgments be in harmony with your own suggests to me a rather dull and narcissistic notion of what constitutes... more... - Jessie
"By Anna Holmes It may also say something that I refused to mingle my books with his, keeping mine on a bookshelf in a room he rarely entered. Let me clarify from the outset that I never discovered a much-loved copy of “Mein Kampf” or “Atlas Shrugged” in a romantic interest’s underwear drawer, or had it revealed to me that a favorite book — say, “Pride and Prejudice” — was so loathed by... more... - Jessie
"I suspect I am not the only woman to become involved with men who profess to value her for her ability to be emotionally present, curious and passionate only to reveal, down the road, an expectation that this sort of generosity of time and energy be restricted solely to interests and activities that include them. I hate the idea that there is a type of person whose impulse when... more... - Jessie
Katy S
A Science-Fiction Classic Still Smolders - The New Yorker -
A Science-Fiction Classic Still Smolders - The New Yorker
One of my favorites! - Katy S from Bookmarklet
Katy S
Stories in Sync: Poetry and Rhythm in Storytelling | -
Stories in Sync: Poetry and Rhythm in Storytelling |
"There are books and stories you greatly enjoy—and then there are ones that make you giddy. Dizzy. Breathless. Stories that take a leap forward in complexity; that dazzle you with audacity. The ones where you say NO THEY DID NOT JUST DO THAT. NO THEY WENT THERE. Or, OMG, I GET IT I GET WHERE THEY’RE GOING. I don’t think everyone has the same giddy stories. We might agree on a group of good, well-loved stories, but a giddy story is that one that speaks to you, that has that moment where you and the story are so in sync that you jump to the next moment together, the next heartbeat." - Katy S from Bookmarklet
Katy S
Terrible Trivium - On Poisoned Apples, the “Great YA Debate,” and the Death of the Patriarchy -
Terrible Trivium - On Poisoned Apples, the “Great YA Debate,” and the Death of the Patriarchy
"I heard a teacher joke that forcing boys to read Pride and Prejudice in high school was turning them off from books for life. And, haha, hilarious. It’s an important work and gives students plenty to analyze. But we just can’t expect boys to appreciate the merits of the book, to engage with it, to grow as readers, because, girl book. We cannot ask boys to think outside themselves. They won’t do it, say these particular men who refuse to think outside themselves. The girls, though, everybody believes the girls should read Huck Finn and Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies and The Old Man and the Sea, because those books are Literature. They are Serious and Canonical, and a book becomes Canonical simply by objective worth, certainly not by a system of biases that keeps self-perpetuating like an undead Ouroboros. And the girls, they’re all right. They’re reading. We don’t have to worry about them. Except the girls aren’t all right. Not at all." - Katy S from Bookmarklet
So much this! - Katy S
Katy S
Be Polite With Your Books - -
Be Polite With Your Books -
"Books: As with food and clothing, they’re a commodity that elicits status anxiety for many people, particularly the insecure. And wherever there is status anxiety, there are potential minefields. We need to tread with the lightness of meringue." - Katy S from Bookmarklet
I love the part "On Bookspotting" - Melly Claus
Is the reshelving tip true? - Melly Claus
I'm really not sure about bookstores. Many libraries have carts out for that. - Katy S
improper reshelving used to be a big annoyance when I ran a bookstore. Proper reshelving didn't matter (it does in a library, because we count uses as well as checkouts), but of course EVERYONE thinks they are reshelving properly. - Marianne
Katy S
Book Challenges Suppress Diversity | Diversity in YA -
Book Challenges Suppress Diversity | Diversity in YA
"The unfortunate situation with Cameron Post and the entire banned summer reading list made me wonder how often the cited reasons for book challenges (which are enumerated by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom here) are smokescreens for the real reasons — reasons that might not always be socially acceptable to state publicly. If a book like Beloved by Toni Morrison is challenged because it is “sexually explicit” and has a “religious viewpoint” and contains “violence” (these are the stated reasons for its challenges in 2012), is it simply accidental that Beloved is also a novel about an African American woman, written by an African American woman?" - Katy S from Bookmarklet
It's not an academic study, but it's pretty interesting. - Katy S
To be fair, Beloved is very sexually explicit and includes violence. As if the film. *hated both* - Soup in a TARDIS
I think her point is that there are many widely read and taught books with those same features that have been written by white men, and yet those books haven't been challenged. Why Morrison's books and not others? - Katy S
I think her data fails to indicate anything about authors of banned books. It does, unsurprisingly, say a fair bit about silencing diversity in characters and plot point. I suspect if the compiler had compared stories wherein the main character (I think including secondary characters, as this author did, leads to inflated numbers without a very specific definition) is or isn't from a... more... - Soup in a TARDIS
Katy S
Barnes & Noble seems to think Rush Limbaugh's children's books are nonfiction. I just can't with this.
2014-09-22 14.26.22.jpg
Well that's alarming - Soup in a TARDIS
o.O - Jessie
Books Set In... I hadn't seen this website before. Books are searchable by location. Advanced search adds genre, title, and author. You can also do a search via map.
Katy S
Ursula Le Guin receives National Book Foundation medal | Shelf Life | -
Ursula Le Guin receives National Book Foundation medal | Shelf Life |
"Every year, the National Book Foundation awards the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to an author “who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.” Since the medal’s inception, authors spanning all genres have been honored, from David McCullough’s historical nonfiction to Ray Bradbury’s science fiction and everything in between. This year, the foundation has awarded the medal to Ursula Le Guin, whose body of sci-fi and fantasy work spans dozens of novels, short stories, and poems." - Katy S from Bookmarklet
All I have to say, is the genre snobs better not treat her award like they treated Stephen King's award. - Katy S
I was gonna say. The Lit'ry Establishment gets the vapors in 3... 2... 1... - RepoRat
Really, I don't know if they could be worse than they were when King got the award in 2003. - Katy S
The one reason they might muzzle it is if they know that Ursula K. CALLS THAT SHIT OUT. - RepoRat
True. Of course, King called them out in his speech. I was so happy when that happened. - Katy S
daaaamn. I don't read horror, and am not a fan of King's work, but I am now a fan of King himself. - RepoRat
I read a lot of his work when I was a teen and tween, then it tapered off. I still enjoy his short stories, though. Now, when I read horror, it tends to be more along the lines of Lovecraft, Blackwood, or Machen. Regardless, the snobbishness of some of the reactions when he received the award were ridiculous. I love that he came back at them. Also, I love all of the things he said about his wife in this. - Katy S
Katy S
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists -
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists
This one is excellent. - Katy S from Bookmarklet
Oooh. *promptly orders for mpow* - Soup in a TARDIS
Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era
From the foreword by Edwin O. Reischauer: "Musashi might well be called the Gone with the Wind of Japan. Written by Eiji Yoshikawa (1892-1962), one of Japan's most prolific and best-loved popular writers, it is a long historical novel, which first appeared in serialized form between 1935 and 1939 in the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's largest and most prestigious newspaper. It has been published in book form no less than fourteen times, most recently in four volumes of the 53-volume complete works of Yoshikawa issued by Kodansha. It has been produced as a film some seven times, has been repeatedly presented on the stage, and has often been made into television mini-series on at least three nationwide networks." - Eivind
"Miyamoto Musashi was an actual historical person, but through Yoshikawa's novel he and the other main characters of the book have become part of Japan's living folklore. They are so familiar to the public that people will frequently be compared to them as personalities everyone knows. This gives the novel an added interest to the foreign reader. It not only provides a romanticized... more... - Eivind
Soooo, who's read it? *raises hand* :) - Eivind
Not yet, but I'll give it a look. - Todd Hoff
It was an enjoyable contrast to Shogun :) - Eivind from Android
New book club next year, run by the Information Services dept. For the 2015 list, I'm supposed to turn in two suggestions soon. Preferably non-fiction. Preferably about current-ish events. Any ideas?
I read this last year (after seeing it posted around here) Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. I thought it was well told, especially reconstructed from fairly different sources. - Jennifer Dittrich
Maybe MfPOW's Go Big Read selection, _I Am Malala_? - RepoRat
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis or Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for finance/data current events. Or danah boyd's it's complicated - Hedgehog from Android
Thanks. I'll take a look at these and decide tomorrow. - bentley
I've read the book about North Korea but didn't remember what it was called (and didn't bother trying to find out). Thanks for the reminder. - bentley
Spidra Webster
Back to (Tech) School Sale - Save 50% on All Ebooks & Videos - O'Reilly Media -
Back to (Tech) School Sale - Save 50% on All Ebooks & Videos - O'Reilly Media
"Spend More, Save More – Save 60% on orders greater than $100! Shop over 8,000 ebooks and videos from top technology publishers. Ebooks and videos from are DRM-free. You get free lifetime access, multiple formats, and free updates. Sync with Dropbox, Drive, Kindle—your files, anywhere. Use discount code B2S4 – Deal expires September 9, 2014 at 5:00am PT, and cannot be combined with other offers. Offer does not apply to Print, or "Print & Ebook" bundle pricing." - Spidra Webster from Bookmarklet
Just wanted to share this with folks who might need tech books. - Spidra Webster
Spidra Webster
Veronica Mars fans, the new Veronica Mars novel is on sale for $1.99 in e-form on Amazon, iBookstore and Kobo.
It's pretty good, too! Feels like the next episodes after the movie, if it were a show. - Jennifer Dittrich from FFHound!
Reading Literature on Screen: A Price for Convenience? - -
"A team of researchers led by Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger in Norway and Jean-Luc Velay at Aix-Marseille Université in France divided 50 graduate students — with equivalent reading habits and experience with tablets — into two groups and had them read the same short story by Elizabeth George (in French translation). One group read the story in paperback, the other on an Amazon Kindle DX. All the while, researchers measured the students’ reading time and their “emotional response” — using a standard psychology scale — to the text. Afterward, they were tested extensively on different aspects of the story. In most respects, there was no significant difference between the Kindle readers and the paper readers: the emotional measures were roughly the same, and both groups of readers responded almost equally to questions dealing with the setting of the story, the characters and other plot details. But, the Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events... more... - Jessie from Bookmarklet
I've wondered about that a bit - I relied on flipping back and forth in books in my English classes when pulling quotes for papers, and physically knowing where it was in the book seems to correlate (for me) with the "when" it happened in the book's timeline. I do fine with electronic vs. paper for light fiction, but heavier works seem to flow a lot better for me in paper. - Jennifer Dittrich
Yeah same with Jennifer the way my mind works i don't think i could have gotten my english studies done on an electronic format. Although the four boxes of novels and poetry would be easier to have lugged around all these years later. - Steve C Team Marina
Same here - it's a lot harder to remember when something happened with only the "% read" to go by. I also find it harder to pull quotes from ebooks because the quotes are often tied to what was happening in the story at that time. - Jessie
Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe - Transformers Wiki -
Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe - Transformers Wiki
If you or some kid (or former kid) you know was ever obsessed with Transformers, YOU WANT THIS BOOK. The Transformer pop-ups? Actually transform!!!!! My mind is blown. - Marianne from Bookmarklet
I uh. Kind of want this for myself. - RepoRat
RepoRat, my copy is absolutely for myself. I *might* let other people play with it. .So I say go for it :D. - Marianne
I need to see this. Reinhart does such good work. - Katy S
Now that I don't have to drive to work, I'm not listening to podcasts much. I miss the podcasts. However, 60 total minutes on the train every work day means I've already read two books in the past two weeks. Yay.
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman ; and Abril Rojo, by Santiago Roncagliolo (review of the English translation here ) - bentley
Honestly, that's the only thing I miss about a train commute - getting significant reading time every day, without other pressures besides snoozing. - Jennifer Dittrich
Jennifer Dittrich
Woo hoo! 35 books 'ahead of schedule' for the end of the challenge. At this point, I'm just excited to see how many I'll actually end up reading by the end of the year.
Ice cream flavors inspired by books (alas, not real flavors).
Spidra Webster
FYI "King Leopold's Ghost" is on special for $2.99 for Kindle or iBooks through 8/31.
That's a good book. - Eivind from Android
Melly Claus
Fwd: This book sounds oddly familiar yet I'm pretty sure I haven't read a book by this title. Can anyone think of another book set in or around a timber plantation/mill? (via
Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books -
Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books
Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books
"Compared to John Williams’s earlier novels, Augustus—the last work to be published by the author, poet, and professor whose once-neglected Stoner has become an international literary sensation in recent years—can seem like an oddity.* For one thing, it was the only one of his four novels to win significant acclaim during his lifetime: published in 1972, Augustus won the National Book Award for fiction." - Eivind from Bookmarklet
"The life of the first emperor is an ideal vehicle for a historical novel: Augustus is a figure about whom we know at once a great deal and very little, and hence invites both description and invention. The biographies and gossip, recording and conjecturing began in the emperor’s own lifetime. One Life was written by a friend and contemporary of Augustus’s who appears as a character in... more... - Eivind
Bookstores of Chicago (blog) "This is (becoming) a comprehensive list of experiences at the 100+ small and independent bookstores in the city of Chicago."
Other ways to read this feed:Feed readerFacebook